Archive for January, 2008|Monthly archive page

KTEC Pipeline – Networking Event

Day 4, Thursday 24th Jan: On Thursday we were brought to the KTEC Pipeline Innovators event and dinner in Kansas City. The KTEC PIPELINE is an innovative program designed to identify talented and entrepreneurial Kansans, match them with best-in-class training, resources and mentors and encourage them to pursue a career as a technology entrepreneur in Kansas. Although this was a private event we were invited to watch the entrepreneurs make their pitches (10 in total) over 5 hours.

ktecgroup.gifIt was comforting to watch these people pitching to very wealthy VCs and Angels and know that I would have been happy enough at any time to get up and take my turn, since we have been doing a lot pitching over the past year during the Kauffman Fellowship program. Since it was judged during the pitches we were unable to ask questions at the time. Fortunately we were also invited to the networking event and dinner that evening. Having experienced the frustration of spending entire networking events mingling randomly and not really meeting entrepreneurs/investors working in my areas of interest, myself and another one of the techie global scholars, Owen, decided to try target-networking. Basically this involves some stalking and conspicuous loitering in the general proximity of your prey, before an apt moment for attack prevails!!! This worked a gem. I managed to chat with Toby Rush, CEO of Rush Tracking Systems, one of the top five Radio Frequency Identification solution providers in the US, about some RFid ideas I had (in generic terms, obviously!). I also managed to stalk Joey Blue, Clint Batman, Tim Donnelly into talking to me!! Haven watched the pitches earlier in the day, in addition to reading up about these entrepreneurs before hand, allowed for fairly probing questions about their business models, motivations, approaches etc. All in all this was a fantastic event and definitely my best opportunity so far to mix with people I see as true tech entrepreneurs.


Viva kansas City!

Day 2, Tuesday 22nd Jan: After settling into the penthouse (Map) and acclimatising to the Baltic Missouri weather (highs 2C, lows -15C) week one got underway. The Global Scholars’ first introduction to the Kauffman Foundation (KF) (Map) and its leadership team was over lunch on Tuesday 22nd. Straight away we were all put at ease by the charisma, friendliness and humour of everyone from VPs to PAs. Karl Schramm, CEO of the KF, led the introductions which included all present (VPs, Team leaders, Global Scholars/KF Fellows) giving personal background information on themselves. The slagging contest soon ensued between the head honchos. One thing I noticed was that a lot of them reckon they have the best job in the Foundation – they definitely appear to love working for the KF! Levels of hierarchy seem pretty much transparent also, and everyone in the Foundation is accessible no matter what their role, CEO, VP, Advisor, PA. Impressive already!

paul_magelli.jpgIn the afternoon one of the other Scholars, Angelo, and I had time to meet with our mentor Paul Magelli. Paul is a seasoned entrepreneur, with over 50 years of experience. Paul is an absolute mind of contacts – Karl Schramm said himself that while the rest of us experience the usual ‘6 degrees of separation’, Paul’s rolodex affords him no more than ‘1 degree of separation’!! Not long into our meeting Angelo and I soon discovered this to be accurate as within minutes he was making plans to contact the CEO of an Aerospace MNC and a computing blue-chip VP for Angelo and I respectively!! Since then we have both received emails and/or phone calls from the contacts! This meeting gave me the chance to describe REHEAT in detail with Paul and to identify key areas where he could assist. On a side note, his son Paul Magelli Jnr. just sold his business, Apertio, to Nokia Seimens for €140M!

Day 3, Wednesday 23rd Jan:

carl_schramm.jpgWednesday morning kicked off with a seminar on entrepreneurship by Carl Schramm. He emphasised a number of points:
The Kauffman Foundation teaches entrepreneurship in a practical way
– Not orientated around business plans by default
      – The business plans follows later at the appropriate/necessary time (but the process does not circulate around the plan)
– Ultimately the only person truly thinking about/responsible for a project is ME
– I’m the one who should ALWAYS maintain control of the project
– If at all possible don’t use venture capital
      – Don’t let my project becomes someone else’s hobby!
      – Why are they interested in the first place?
      – Input/advice/analysis is much more affective when administered in an objective way
US business schools’ approaches circulate around:
      – Students hardwired to focus on writing business plans
      – Surrounding yourself with entrepreneurs & bios/stories of them/their successes
      – Find the right VC and let them do the thinking for/with you

Carl quoted Adam Smith, an English theorist, who once said that the great thing about capitalism is that in the pursuit of self-interest or an intention to obtain personal wealth one CANNOT avoid doing a social good. With this in mind one can say that entrepreneurs contribute in various ways that perhaps an NGO or not-for-profit organisation may not, including:
      – Job & wealth creation – 50% of US jobs created by companies 5 years/younger
      – Drive innovation – economies/GDPs become wealthier upon innovation
Carl’s talk was very insightful and altered/informed my perspectives of new ventures and entrepreneurs in a number of ways. In particular I think in future I’ll use my intuition/initiative more when considering potential ventures and investigate a projects potential in a bespoke pragmatic way before thinking about business plans.

john_tyler.jpgIn the afternoon we had a very practical discussion on Non-Disclosure Agreements (NDAs) with John Tyler who is general counsel for the Kauffman Foundation. He is responsible for all legal aspects of the Foundation’s operations, including intellectual property, employment, investments, and compliance with IRS regulations for private foundations. A couple of major points I took away from this seminar include:
– NDAs are only worth the paper and ink used to write them UNLESS you have the ability and resources to enfource it
– One should use good judgement/discretion to avoid breaking NDAs
– Its important to include mutual obligations when composing NDA contracts, as this makes it seem more give & take, and they’re likely to look more favourably on the contract and any potential relationship.

Kauffman Fellowship – the details…

Gordon brownIn Gordon Brown’s 2006 budget speech he mentioned that enterprise and entrepreneurship would be given a new focus by the government. One way this happened was a partnership between NCGE and the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation in America. The partnership gives 12 select engineering graduates from UK/Northern Irish/Danish Universities the opportunity to study Entrepreneurship in America, with the intention of starting their own businesses. In 2007 Gordon Brown, now as Prime Minister, and Carl Schramm, CEO of the Kauffman Foundation, continued to emphasise the importance of Enterprise and the positive impact of working with global entrepreneurs at the launch of Global Entrepreneurship Week (video) in November 2007 (pictured above). Below is a picture of Carl Schramm and Gordon Brown with some of the 2008 global scholars (aka entrepreneurship fellows).

fellows_with_gordon_brown_4__custom_.jpgThis blog provides details of the Kauffman Entrepreneurship Fellowship, including training received from NCGE in the UK during the first 6 months, in addition to time spent training in the States with the Kauffman Foundation, during the last 6 months. Feel free to follow the blog for further details on my experiences during the Fellowship (July 07-08), which is supported by NICENT and INI. The outline of the program’s agenda is as follows:

London (Induction @ London Rebuilding Society): July 11th 2007 (2 day residential)
Portsmouth (@ University of Portsmouth): Sept 20th 2007 (2 day residential)
Manchester (@ University of Manchester): Nov 1st 2007 (2 day residential)
Reading/London (@ Microsoft, Kings College London): Dec 11th 2007 (2 day residential)
Kansas City (@ Kauffman Foundation): Jan 19th 2008 (4 weeks)
San Fran (@ Silicon Valley, Stanford): Feb 17th 2008 (9 days)
Boston (@ Harvard, MIT): Feb 26th 2008 (11 days)
San Fran (Internship @ Cisco’s IBSG): March 8th 2008 (12 weeks)
Kansas City (debrief): May 31st 2008 (1 week)
Home: June 6th 2008

USA phase:
For six months, Kauffman Global Scholars study, exchange ideas, and work with U.S. entrepreneurial experts. The groundbreaking program offers aspiring entrepreneurs:
– Direct access to American researchers, business founders, and policymakers who give scholars the insights to foster entrepreneurship in their own countries and to transform their entrepreneurial dreams into reality.
– Mentors who individually guide and coach each Scholar throughout the course of the six-month program.
– Visits to leading American universities to exchange ideas with faculty, students, and those engaged in innovative, entrepreneurial work.
– Three-month entrepreneurship internships at innovative entrepreneurial companies. Here, the Scholars experience the real-life challenges and rewards of entrepreneurship and, in turn, share their skills and talents with the mentoring companies.

An International Give-and-Take:
In today’s economy, companies must think and act globally to succeed. The Kauffman Global Scholars Program forms the cornerstone of an important transnational dialogue that benefits all who participate. Upon completing the program, Scholars take home a keen understanding of how they can apply their ideas, technical skills, and knowledge to create successful, high-impact ventures in their countries. And, the U.S. companies that host the Global Scholars gain an insider’s view of the resources, cultures, and business practices that characterize the countries with which they may do business.

Press releases:
Kauffman Foundation – Global Scholars
NCGE – Flying Start
Nicent – Two UU Graduates Selected for Prestigious Enterprise Programme
Nicent – Search Begins For Budding Student Entrepreneurs
INI – Kauffman Foundation Entrepreneurship Fellowship